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Full text of "My Country And My People"

LITERARY   LIFE                      $63

is a novel of adventure and home love combined. It has
invalidated Chinese tales of mystery, as in the Paokung An
(Cases of 'Paokung], and makes the development of the detective
story impossible, which is due also to such causes as the lack
of scientific reasoning and the cheapness of Chinese lives. For
when a Chinese dies the general conclusion is that he is dead,
and that is final. The Chinese detective, Paokung, who is, by
the way, a magistrate himself, solves his mysteries and murders
always by visions in dreams instead of by Sherlock Holmes's
reasoning.

In looseness of plot, the Chinese novel is like the novels of
D- H. Lawrence, and in length like the Russian novels of
Tolstoy and Dostoievsky. The similarity between Chinese and
Russian novels is quite apparent. Both have an extremely
realistic technique, both revel in details, both content them-
selves with telling the story without the subjectivity charac-
teristic of the novels of Western Europe. Fine psychological
portrayal there is, but there is very little room for the author
to expand over his psychological knowledge. The story is told
primarily as a story. In unmitigated delineation of stark
depravity, too, the Gold-Vase-Plum has nothing to lose by com-
parison with The Brothers ICaramazov. The plot is generally
best in the class described as love romances, but in the novel
of social manners, which has been in vogue in the last three
decades, the plot wanders and disperses into a series of badly
connected anecdotes and short stories interesting in them-
selves. The short story itself did not even come into being
until the very last decade, when modern writers are trying to
create something similar to what they have read in Western
literature in the original or in translation.

On the whole, the tempo of the Chinese novel reflects very
well the tempo of Chinese life. It is enormous, big and
variegated and is never in a hurry. The novel is avowedly
created to kill time, and when there is plenty of time to kill
and the reader in no hurry to catch a train, there is no reason
why he must hurry to the end. A Chinese novel should be read
slowly and with good temper. When there are flowers on the
way, who is going to forbid the traveller from stopping
to cull them?